Vetting Interview Opportunities

By Abby Cohen

With today’s proliferation of media, traditional news outlets aren’t the only journalists in town any more.

Brands are increasingly becoming publishers, offering their own content that helps tell their story. Marketers are leveraging sponsored content (paid advertising that looks like news articles) to promote their brands and products. In this new world of fake news and the blurring lines of what constitutes media, doing due diligence about the journalists and the outlets they are writing for is increasingly important.

Whether you have a PR team in place at your brewery or you’re the owner or brewer who is doing it all, here are a few tips to help you vet media opportunities that come your way.

Ask what outlet this is for

As our friend Julia Herz likes to say “Asking is free.” If a writer reaches out and it’s unclear what outlet they are requesting an interview for, ask them. You have every right to know where your brand is going to be featured.

Check out the outlet

Take a few minutes to peruse the outlet and see the reporter’s past work. Almost every media outlet has an “About Us” page that has more information about them, whether they are associated with a larger media conglomerate or even another brand. Take time to read the writer’s stories. It can help give you a sense of who they are, how they write and the angle they might be taking.

Writers move around

We’re in a gig economy now. Many writers are working as freelancers for a variety of outlets. You may have worked with them on a story for one outlet, only to find out the next time they are writing for another one completely. Reconfirm with the writer which outlet the story is for.

Real earned media opportunities are free

The lines between PR and advertising and sponsorship are more blurred than ever, which can be incredibly confusing for consumers and breweries. If someone approaches you about a paid opportunity couched as media, that falls more under a sponsorship or partnership. Treat it as if you would any other paid opportunity.

It’s ok to pass on an opportunity

While it’s usually always fun to see your name in the paper, sometimes an opportunity is just not right for you. It’s ok to politely decline a request to be interviewed if the outlet does not align with your brand. Thank the writer for the opportunity, but state that you’d like to pass at this time. Disclaimer: that’s not to say they won’t forge ahead with the story anyway, but it’s not mandatory that you participate in an interview if asked.

Dealing with the media is never an exact science. But the more homework you do upfront, the more confident you can feel about pursing or passing on an opportunity.

Abby_BermanAbby Cohen is a vice president at The Rosen Group and serves as media relations consultant for the Brewers Association.  The Rosen Group is a full-service public relations firm that provides its diverse group of entrepreneurial clients with innovative ideas, trustworthy counsel and results-driven campaigns that encompass media relations, special events, social media and collateral materials.